The Sikth Sense

6th.

Sixth.

How do you pronounce that word?

To me, it’s always obviously been pronounced phonetically: as it looks, basically. You just say six, and, well, add -th to the end!

Yet in the last couple of years, I’ve noticed a trend, particularly among English newsreaders and reporters, of pronouncing the x like a k. Sikth.

Now it might be the case that some people have always pronounced it like that and after noticing it once, or hearing someone mention it once, I notice it all the time: the frequency illusion I wrote about before.

Except I’ve noticed a lot of people who’ve also noticed this in recent years, so I think it’s a recent development. Why would people start pronouncing it that way? My initial thought was that the six part of it sounds too much like sex for some people to be comfortable with it, so to be polite they started pronouncing it sikth. But then that would also apply to the number six (or sik?), and people still pronounce it correctly. And for me at least, it’s harder to pronounce than the more common way. There’s an annoying little stop between the k and th sounds: they just don’t flow naturally together. Which I think is why it’s so noticeable when people pronounce it that way.

I try not to let it irritate me, but honestly, it drives me slightly crazy when I hear it. Yes, I should tolerate other people’s way of speaking, but it just sounds wrong, and I can’t figure out the logic behind it, which frustrates me.

But then, I can barely pronounce specific, so what do I know?

9 thoughts on “The Sikth Sense

  1. The last line made me laugh! I can’t pronounce beautiful or hallelujah unless I’m exclaiming them! I have no idea why.

    I like to think I pronounce it “sixth”. I have a friend who is a speech and language therapist and I can’t help but think that that must be a really difficult job to turn off from – you must be always analysing pronunciation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I find that one hard to understand, and I hear it sometimes here in Ireland. I could understood people pronouncing it differently if it weren’t a common word, but surely they must hear it pronounced correctly every day and notice the difference!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I hear the,” axe” one all the time. I don’t know if I have beard, “sixth” as “sikth”. To me that is harder to say. I also have a problem with the pronunciation of , “specific”.
    I really am enjoying your posts. Food for thought, on our language and uses, and all the twists and turns it has taken. It is still developing as we go.

    Liked by 1 person

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